Spring Clean

House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer’s have had a spring clean and launched new site designs.

Two established retailers, Hof seen as younger more on trend perhaps, M&S seen as with of an established customer base that’s older, both not places I usually shop online at.

Explored these on desktop, tablet and mobile. Three things stand out from both, Image, White and Minimalist is king.

Product pages – here’s the M&S one, and the Hof one.

They have strong points in terms of the images being sharp and clear, both are clearly gearing themselves towards the mobile/tablet customer, with the image heavy flat designs.

Both are image led on their front pages. Hof with static single image then more blocks of images further down. While M&S have a carousel that fills the screen on the desktop, mobile or tablet. Then more image blocks further down. Although a lot more slick looking, M&S was a lot harder to navigate on a tablet and mobile for me and it seemed you ha a lot more clicks to get to pages. Whereas Hof have their own mobile site, that sits well with their desktop navigation design too.

hofms

Varied typography is consistent on these two sites, something that’s becoming increasingly used on many ecom sites. Here’s an example on Hof’s Jo Malone brand page. Still unsure about this but it definitely draws the eye.

Spring Clean?

Keen to see what else develops on these two site in the coming year, both clearly moving towards a more responsive design but not entirely yet..

I shall be keeping an eye out for more redesigned sites. I’ll also be exploring how well or not so well they actually work for shopping on! Follow me @lauramalteser

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair: A Time Travelling Snapshot

The camera was my tool this weekend when I took on a blogger challenge, snapping my experience at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. My mission? To take a disposable camera and capture my experiences.

This is my record of secret portal to a treasure trove – captured for those who crave vintage goodness.

Donning my fashion blogging uniform (see below) and clicking my heels into another land, I sort to document Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair on 3 December . This glimpse into other world’s at Old Spitalfields Market debuted on Saturday – the first time in 100 years – by welcoming Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair which shall be gracing the site every first Saturday of the month in future.

My time travelling blog uniform!

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair feels as if it’s always been at Old Spitalfields; laying down its time travelling cloak of glamour with well-honed vintage heels and spreading out its decade defying 140 stalls from all over the UK.

Diving straight into these worlds I could become any character, traversing eras. Forget slaving over fashion’s ‘latest’ or ‘must haves’, Judy’s shows worlds ahead and beyond that. The wealth of stalls offer items Topshop or Urban Outfitters won’t have and that’s what fellow time travel shoppers felt, commenting how, ‘You don’t get this quality in the shops‘. This is coupled with great prices and an added dose of history, transporting its owners back to another time.

The girls travel back to a world of vintage lace.

There was all the fashion you could shake a clutch bag and armed with my camera I found new worlds and revived memoires. Overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to begin, suddenly all sensible thoughts of – ‘I only need to find a print to go on my bedroom wall’ – float out of the packed crowd of fellow explorers.

A peek into the wardrobe of a glamorous goddess.

I chanced upon the 70s with sequined dresses, felt the 50s in well-loved leather jackets, discovered oriental traditions with silk kimonos and put myself into the shoes of a 20s party girl.

Whose shoes will you step into from past times??

Trying on the shoes reminded me of the past characters who have passed through Old Spitalfields Market, making it what it is today. The site can boast the fact that it was a Roman cemetery in 1601, and that Charles Roberts Ashbee, founder of the Arts and Craft movement, opened his Guild and School of Handicraft at Toynbee Hall across the road. It saw Maltese, Irish, Scots, West Indian, Somalian and Bangladeshi communities came to the area in 1900s. This history made the clothes come to life more against backdrop of the wrought iron roof of the market.

Eras of elegance collide with Old Spitalfields Market’s history.

Further on in my travels I landed in a music box of my childhood with my parents record collection, a vinyl collection featuring Eric Clapton and Grace Jones. More figures came to life such as the Beatles and Wham, this was a literal slice of a time gone, making my fellow shoppers laugh and admit their (sometimes embarrassing) musical loves.

Travel back to Grace Jones’ ‘Slave to the Rhythm  of the 80s.

It’s not just the fashion and music eras that took me time travelling, furniture and home accessories sent me to other lands.  I found lamps, vases, telephones, chairs and china. Taking me by surprise I was whisked into the Madmen set with 50s clocks to show how long I had been caught up in amongst this colourful landscape.

Which time shall you travel to at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair?

Towards the outter edges in-between the rails and jewellery boxes I tiptoed back to my childhood with these teeny tiny shoes. Reminding me of my tentative first ballet steps as a 6 year old, they took on a life of their own, I could smell the hairspray and remember my practice steps as if it was yesterday.

Tiny steps back into my childhood.

I began to discover more and more stalls that all had hidden surprises, shifting from one exotic time to another. Along the way I met more fellow travellers who were able to feel extra special with vintage underwear from the 20s that’s not on the high street. Other vintage lovers were reminded of places from childhood with old town posters, or of their much loved toys with Lego and Scrabble jewellery.

Discovering memories of places.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was also an opportunity for everyone to add to their collections – no matter how ‘unfashionable’ or not on ‘trend’ it may seem. I could see how the fair gave everyone a chance to not only to take on different characters, but immerse themselves in their favourite style. Sports shirts always remained elusive one shopper (below) and he found something perfect by travelling to the 1990’s with his find at the fair.

Finding something to go with own your style.

Finally I managed to tear myself away from the dazzling array of stalls and back to the present day. Still reeling with all the images its hard to pin it down to just a few but hopefully my snaps have inspired you to take on an exploration of a future Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. It’s the perfect place to find new eras of inspiration and banish vintage designer price tags.

Travel through lands and time, be inspired and experiment but most importantly, pass on this secret passage into vintage heaven.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair comes from humble beginnings in London 2005, starting as in indoor market. Now it boasts not only vintage fairs around the UK but the Kilo Vintage Sale, Furniture Flea, AND they even casted their kitsch eye over Vintage at Goodwood by curating it in 2010. They’re also expanded to outsite the UK shores in February 2012 increasing their stalls form 140 to 170 – more goodies for all!

Follow all their latest updates for events here and also their tweets @JudyVintageFair.

For the images from my photo blog challenge head to Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair Facebook page where they shall be posted soon!

A Foggy Sunday Stroll

Seems winter may have finally shown its face, and in a nice way. On Sunday I spent the afternoon in my favourite part of South West London, Richmond Park observing the mad joggers (wearing next to nothing) and cyclists and also trying to see through the fog.

The fog was so dense after about an hours walk my hair was soaked, it was like slow motion rain!

Despite the weather it was perfect for walking, crisp and fresh! Horses riders were still cantering through as well.

Spooky horse riders pass by.

Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and was originally a Royal hunting ground, and was enclosed by Charles I in 1637, so deer have been roaming the park for hundreds of years. In fact the park contains an astonishing amount of wildlife from woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits, stag beetles and parakeets and more, not that I could spot any of them through the fog…

To explore more (professional!) photographs of the park see the Richmond Park, London website by Steve Morgan  http://www.richmondparklondon.co.uk/ follow him here @richmondparkuk

Hello winter!

Leonardo Da Vinci at the National Gallery

The much hyped Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition is now open at the National Gallery with a seven room exhibition. The display is ideal for those who adore the technicality of the line and the workings of an artist , with many preparatory drawings and paintings by Leonardo and his pupils on display.

The build up for this exhibition has been felt for months, ever since its advance booking opened in May 2011 – a long seven months before its actual opening day.

With its future opening announced came capped visitor numbers and the gallery saying it would restrict visitors due to ‘unprecedented demand’. The Evening Standard has reported how the tickets have now sold out until mid-December. The pressure for this display to deliver to its global audience is now immense.

© Princes Czartoryski Foundation

The exhibition brings together an impressive collection of international loans never before seen in the UK, from the Queen, America, Poland, France, Scotland and donations from Art Fund acquisitions. One difference with this exhibition from others is it the first to be dedicated to Leonardo’s aims and techniques as a painter. Don’t expect reams of glorious huge paintings, though there are a few of some pretty ladies, curly haired men and angels.

‘If the painter wishes to see beauties that enamour him, he is the master of their production, and if he wishes to see monsterous things.. he is there lord and god’

For my full review head to Art Pie here

The exhibition is open now:  09 Nov 2011 – 05 Feb 2012 Mon – Thu, Sat, Sun 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Fri 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM Closed Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, Christmas Day.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan

Inside the Warhol Machine

Last night I headed to the preview of David McCabe’s photographs for the exhibition The Factory: Warhol and His Circle at Proud Chelsea for Art Pie..

Warhol – just the name conjures up an instant image of a whole catalogue of works that transcend generations – the Campbell’s Soup tins, the Jackie Kennedy prints- and define the pop art movement.

This exhibition gives viewers a glimpse into something other than the primary colours and consumerism images of Andy Warhol. Proud Chelsea is exhibiting a photographic memoir of a year at the Factory Warhols working world of creativity and notoriety. The images were taken by David McCabe who was a rising star on the New York photography scene when he was contacted by Warhol and asked to collaborate with him in documenting life at the Factory between 1964 and 1965.

This is McCabe’s first UK exhibition and highlights this world that Warhol created the exhibition features snap shots of other artists Warhol knew, such as Salvador Dali. Who in one image is explaining one of his paintings to Warhol, almost in a teacher/professor like manor.

 For the full review including images head to Art Pie

The exhibition opens today at Proud Chelsea and runs till the 4th December Mon, Tue, Thu – Sun 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Wed 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.

Glamour of the Gods

The National Portrait gallery’s exhibition Glamour of the Gods takes us back in time to an age when the actor was on a pedestal; a time when audiences held them aloft and their art form seemed elusive. It’s this exhibition that captures this constructed ‘glamour’ perfectly, with a display of 70 prints from the film industry’s ‘Golden Age’ – 1920 to 1960.

This is in contrast with today, in which we seem to be bombarded with images of actors outside of their controlled airbrushed and well lit environments. In fact for many of us they’re more than just an actor – they’re someone we know everything about from their endorsements of perfume and jewellery to their images of home life splashed across the gossip magazines. It is an aspect I am used to; reading about their marriage, break ups, favourite foods and thoughts on their politics. In fact we almost could say we know our favourite actor as well as out best friends.

Glamour constructed

The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition is a small but insightful peek drawn from the archive of the John Kobal Foundation. What is surprising is how this age is the just the beginning of how stars become more than just a flawless face on the screen – they were on the cusp of being a brand, a commodity. The images in this exhibition are in no doubt as controlled as the covers of the glossies today- airbrushing, lighting and specific angles created ideals for each actor to be seen as by audiences. It is these portraits that became the studio’s chief tool to keep the faces of favorites in the minds of the public. It was the beginning of the PR machine, using the images to promote the actors new film.

John Kobal Foundation, 2011. Marlon Brando for Streetcar Named Desire, 1950 by John Engstead

From looking at the images you get a sense of how perhaps really nothing has changed from then to today. Actors are still constructed it’s just we perhaps get more of the ‘whole’ image of them; being ‘papped’ with no make up or falling out of bars….

There’s some classic images in this exhibition such as ones of James Dean, Marlene Dietrich and Marlon Brando (above)  that are no doubt seared into the cultural conscious of glamour. The obvious stand out image is Greta Garbo, her semingly relaxed pose oozes sophistication whether its her sauntering pose, her dress, her smoking – she screams confidence – and they all play a role in constructing the explicit message of emphasising her femme fatal figure of glamour.

This wonderful exhibition is a great snap shot of actors when they were visions on the silver screen in an industry that was soon to disappear, and when they were adored as the hero’s and heroines they played.

Catch it while you can at The National Portrait Gallery until 23 October!